Observing Innovators in Bloom
In 2050, students learn under the infinite sky. In each school complex, outdoor education hubs outnumber placid classrooms, each site a star in a constellation of learning spanning mauka to makai. Education hubs provide an immersive learning experience in the final installment of Hawai‘i of Tomorrow presented by Hawaiian Electric.
The potential of innovation to blossom, like a sprout in a garden pot, is limited by the size of its confines. In 2050, students learn under the infinite sky. In each school complex, outdoor education hubs outnumber placid classrooms, each site a star in a constellation of learning spanning mauka to makai.
At Kona’s coastal hub, children wow wide-eyed around a sea cucumber stuck to their classmate’s cupped hands. The kupuna who placed it there smirks as he describes how its alkaline excrement fortifies coral reefs. “Eeew!” they squeal.
Another group of kids huddle around a fishbot, tinkering with its robotic innards on the deck of the learning pier. It’s the caudal fin, they agree, that needs tuning in order to make it really swim in biomimicry of the pāpio schooling 20 meters away.
“I would want to see a place that’s surging forward in technology and beauty but also doesn’t forget where they come from. Hawai‘i is a beautiful place with a lot of history, so paying tribute to it would be respectful.”
– Erin Song, Student, McKinley High School
Their teacher stands on the edge of a black ‘a‘ā tidepool three steps between either group, jotting observations into her smartware. It’s exactly the kind of qualitative data that enables friendly artificial intelligence to tailor lesson plans individualized to each student’s strengths, joys, and inclinations.
In the decade since Hawai‘i became the global leader in climate innovation, the booming industry has transformed the state’s economy and supercharged school capacity. Now, our teachers act as facilitators of personalized revelations, rather than managers of mini-knowledge factories. Each student is prized for the unique and creative potential they bring to their island’s future.
“In 30 years, I hope to see Hawai‘i using cleaner energy and … to not see the effects of climate change. I hope there will be changes in our consumption and that we are protecting and preserving the land around us. … I see Hawai‘i shifting reliance on the tourism industry and to be self-sustaining.”
– Marc Gamayo, Student, Waipahu High School
Indigenous science, born of hundreds of generations’ ongoing co-creation of regenerative systems thinking, has reclaimed the zeitgeist. Rivers, farmers, dry land forests, and retired neighbors are invaluable resources for innovative ideas and hyperlocal knowledge. Autonomous electric buses safely shuttle students between hubs, and public wifi is as much an afterthought as the fresh air they breathe throughout the school day.
At each site, students learn by observing closely the land they will steward into a new age of holistic resilience, their island a microcosm of our shared planet’s potential.